By Nicole Mayer and Talia Kruger
WOODLAND, CA – The victim of a robbery appeared at the accused’s sentencing hearing here in Yolo County Superior Court this week to provide a statement of impact, but the accused failed to show up until after the statement was given.
Sarah Jewel Brown was arrested after forcibly taking $7,000 dollars from the victim and injuring her.
Brown pleaded no contest to felony grand theft in an exchange for a lighter sentence after being charged with felonies of conspiracy to commit a felony, robbery in the first degree, and grand theft. All but the grand theft were dismissed.
But Wednesday when the scheduled sentencing hearing was set to take place—Brown was nowhere to be found.
Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira provided some context to why Brown may not appear that day.
According to Sequeira, “Ms. Brown is in a position now that she hadn’t been in prior as far as being employed. The last information I had heard was that she was employed, which was a big deal for Sarah because Ms. Brown had not had steady previous employment before she went to prison, so that was a big step.”
She also explained that she didn’t believe Brown would purposefully evade the court as she is “very comfortable with court proceedings, she was very comfortable with this plea, (and) she was very comfortable with probation’s recommendation.
“Her life is difficult,” noted DPD Sequeira, “She is very transitory, she’s had a lot of issues in the past being victimized in other arenas and it’s just a lot for her sometimes to get to court transportation-wise.”
In response to the defense’s statements, the prosecution explained how the victim of the crime had taken time off of work to come to court that day, as well as on the original day of sentencing, and had prepared a statement of impact.
Judge Tom Dyer, in response, addressed the victim and assured her that she would still be able to give her statement to the court, as well as in two weeks when the new sentencing hearing was set to occur.
The victim, identified by The Vanguard as Jane Doe, agreed to give her statement since she had taken time off of work to appear.
Doe addressed the court, “I came to this court asking for justice. I am a single mother having hard times, and I’m working hard to make ends meet, but people trying to make easy money like Miss Sarah Brown…hurt people, and if justice doesn’t stop them they may end up killing people.”
Doe argued she wanted Brown to “be punished and pay a high price for what (Brown has) done to me.”
“I’m grateful to God I’m still alive.” said Doe emotionally after explaining how Brown’s accomplice had grabbed her wrists and thrown her violently to the ground during the incident.
As for the money that was stolen from her, Doe explained how the financial loss has affected her home life, “The roof of my home is falling apart and leaking, because the money I was going to use to make the repairs was stolen from me in a violent manner. Leaving me with no money and a great financial hardship.”
She requested her money be returned to her, and asked the court to “…order the $7,000 dollars to be repaid,” adding, “It is my understanding that Miss Brown is employed, so she should be able to pay back restitution. It’s only fair.”
Doe also requested that she be reimbursed for “… any future medical expenses for (her) hand and wrist…”
Furthermore, Doe emotionally expressed to Judge Dyer how the trauma from this event follows her every day, that she doesn’t “trust” anyone, and is “scared to do my everyday duties whenever at day and night. (she’s) afraid of (her) own personal safety and also for others.”
Sympathetically, Judge Dyer assured Doe her statement was included in the court reports, setting up the next court date in two weeks for the sentencing of Brown and setting a bench warrant for $10,000.
However, after a short recess, Brown appeared in court, allowing Judge Dyer to explain the importance of Doe’s statement , calling it a “…powerful event for her…what has been done to her sense of trust and community as a whole, and times like this don’t just wash away from people’s minds.”
Judge Dyer then agreed to go along with the plea agreement for Brown, sentencing her to 52 days in jail, which she already served pre-trial, two years of probation, including paying $7,000 restitution to the victim.
Brown signed her probation papers, as Judge Dyer concluded, telling her, “…looking at your criminal history, there’s been a lot of recent offenses and I hope that stops as of now and there is nothing further.”